P.E.I. firm to build hybrid propulsion system for coast guard vessel
Aspin Kemp says contract will keep workers busy during COVID slowdown
An engineering firm in eastern P.E.I. says it has landed a contract with the Canadian Coast Guard that will help keep workers employed during a downturn in business due to COVID-19.
Aspin Kemp and Associates of Montague is helping build a hybrid battery-powered research vessel.
The company exports its hybrid-battery marine technology around the world. Owner Jason Aspin says COVID has slowed business.
"Based on the COVID impact to our organization, it's very difficult in an organization that's mostly providing export projects, it's been difficult to execute those and business is down," he said.
"Customers aren't spending. So any type of work that we can get locally in Canada is great and anything in P.E.I. is even better."
The company says it now has a contract — worth millions — to design, build, install and maintain the propulsion system for a Canadian Coast Guard near-shore fisheries research vessel.
The made-in-P.E.I. technology uses a hybrid combination of diesel-electric propulsion and battery power.
"In addition to being much more efficient, it also makes the vessel quiet which is important for a research vessel, as well. So those things are benefits that they get out of that. The fuel savings and the carbon reduction is very similar to a hybrid automobile."
The company has made hybrid battery systems for tug boats, offshore drilling platforms and other marine vessels.
In coming weeks, the company will start work on its first hybrid lobster fishing boat, which it hopes to launch in P.E.I. waters this summer.
The coast guard contract will prevent further layoffs for now and keep the company busy well into next year, with further work possible, Aspin said.
The company is also working on designs for a battery-hybrid ferry, to be ready if and when the Wood Islands ferry is replaced.
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With files from Brian Higgins